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Discussion Forum : General Topics : Elder qualifications

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JHerndon
Member



Joined: 2010/8/1
Posts: 85
Bonifay,Fl

 Elder qualifications

I was wanting to get some different point of views on a conversation I recently had.
What are some of your opinions on men who have been divorced becoming elders? The question comes from 1 Timothy 3:2 where the qualification listed is "the husband of one wife". This quote comes from the KJV. What are your thoughts?


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Joshua Herndon

 2017/4/17 10:21Profile
twayneb
Member



Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 1760
Joplin, Missouri

 Re: Elder qualifications

I have studied this, and this is what I found. There are really two major opinions on the subject. First, that the husband of one wife means that the man could never have been married and then divorced. There are a few commentators who would agree with this. As I have read translations like Youngs Literal, I tend to think that this not what is meant, but rather the second major viewpoint.

The second major view is that this means that a man can only be the husband of one wife at a time. In the time period that this was written and in the culture it was not uncommon for a man to have more than one wife. Paul would be saying here that a man must only have one wife if he is to be considered an elder. It seems to me the wording of the verse fits this better.

Matthew Henry gives both opinions as viable options. Barnes does as well, as does Clarke and Gill.

I have known of several men in my life who were called of God to be elders in the church and some who have been called to be pastors, evangelists, teachers, etc., who have divorce in their past, just like I have known of many who are called who have had drunkenness in their past. Elders cannot be given to much wine just as they must only be the husband of one wife. But God's grace in forgiving and cleansing a drunk is just as effectual in forgiving and cleansing a divorcee.

That is the conclusion I came to.


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Travis

 2017/4/17 15:34Profile
ThyKingCome
Member



Joined: 2011/4/19
Posts: 153
Southern CA

 Re: Elder qualifications

I am no scholar, but in considering the text I would also agree with viewpoint 2.

Men can find forgiveness, healing and grace in Christ to move forward and still be used of God. Not all divorce is avoidable. The view that divorce disqualifies someone indefinitely does not allow much room for putting it in the past or restoration.

Now, if a man has more than one wife, then it is a CURRENT abuse and disobedience to scripture, so the man then is presently disqualified because he is actively living in disobedience.

Now, that said the character of the men should be tested more thoroughly if he has divorce in his past, and it should be weighed in the decision.


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Brother Kevin

 2017/4/18 13:52Profile
Sree
Member



Joined: 2011/8/20
Posts: 1560


 Re:

I believe the scripture concerned here is based on the situation in the Churches those days. Many pagans who had multiple wives would have turned to Christ and come to Churches. Hence Paul tells to appoint only men who have one wife.

I was raised as a Hindu till 25 years of my life. I hated Christianity just because there was a Catholic in my neighborhood who had 2 wives. This is illegal in India still he was having unofficially 2nd wife. He was also a church goer every Sunday as a family. I lost all my respect for Christianity after seeing him. I believed Christians were people with no morality.

Now what would happen if the elder of a Church was one living with multiple wives? Will that not damage the reputation of the Church?

An elder is not same as Pastor, Pastors are paid workers by Church, which was never an accepted practice. In my Church, we do not have pastors, but elders who are appointed (not elected) based on their quality of Christian life (not based on educational qualification).

Regarding those who are divorced, I would not consider them for eldership, since it is very difficult to analyse or judge the motive of Divorce. It might be a divorce that is not their mistake at all. Still very difficult to find the truth. Hence let them serve the lord in the Church without being an elder.

Eldership is like being a Chief servant. While all others are servants of one another in a Church. Only thing important is, am I serving the Lord. In a true body of Christ, every part will have a job to play, not just a Pastor. Since most of the institutional churches are one man show, anyone who cannot become elder due to their past will get offended. But if the Church is a true representation of Body then eldership does not matter to a true part of the body.


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Sreeram

 2017/4/18 14:38Profile
twayneb
Member



Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 1760
Joplin, Missouri

 Re:

Just for clarification, the divorces that I was speaking of took place before the people I mentioned were born again. Their conversion, maturing, and calling all came after the fact.

I do find it curious that the church seems to focus quite a bit on this one qualification of an elder, but I seldom hear much said about the remainder of the qualifications. For example, does the man rule his own household well? Does his wife exhibit the signs of a woman who is loved and cherished by her husband. Do the children obey and respect their father? Do they live in subjection to him because he is parenting according to Godliness? Is he a glutton, or does he have his own body in subjection? Does he demonstrate a life of prayer and commitment to the word of God? Is he apt to teach the word?

I agree with Sreeram. We have an odd structure in our churches many times that does not resemble the biblical structure. We have a paid pastor and often board members or "elders" who do little more than pay the bills and decide whether or not to pave the parking lot. Elders are God's way of overseeing the church. These men are to be the living examples of Godliness to the body. They are to be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit and living lives of Biblical holiness and dedication. They sacrifice their own lives and desires to see the body whom they oversee grow into maturity. So the qualifications of eldership are extremely important.


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Travis

 2017/4/19 8:12Profile
lovejt
Member



Joined: 2005/11/5
Posts: 117


 Re:

Appreciate your thoughts Travis/Sree. Am very much for fellowship and complete forgiveness to those who have divorced. If the American Church is 50% divorced, we need alot of mercy. Leadership is a different standard.

I agree about the salaried pastor comments.
Do you guys ever see John 10:11-13 as a verse that could apply in this area in some ways? Not saying everyone who gets a salary doesn't care for the sheep but the principle of it.....


11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.


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james

 2017/4/19 13:00Profile
twayneb
Member



Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 1760
Joplin, Missouri

 Re:

James: I am not saying that elders should not be supported by the work of the gospel. Paul teaches at length about the support that the church should have for the elders. In fact, he says that elders who rule well are worthy of double honor and the context is unmistakably financial support for the work they do. Just like the original apostles that realized they needed to no longer wait tables, but devote themselves to the word and to prayer, elders who oversee churches are often called to the same.

If a church is small, then several elders can oversee the flock and do so in spite of having full or part time jobs. When a church body grows very large at all, there will have to be some men who are committed to full time ministry to the body. In that case, then he who preaches the gospel should live of the gospel in my opinion. It is a very Biblical pattern.

But, if we would follow the Biblical pattern of recognizing and ordaining leadership in our churches, we would not have men who draw a salary but do not truly care for the flock.


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Travis

 2017/4/19 13:27Profile
Sree
Member



Joined: 2011/8/20
Posts: 1560


 Re:

Bible only talks about Elders getting help from congregation that they serve. Some kind of gift. But not salary. Salary is a monthly contract. So what happens these days is a person who is pastoring a church waits till his credibility improves to be hired as a pastor for a bigger Church, hence there by makes more money. Service should come out of a burden that God has put in our hearts, not out of salary that a CHurch is offering to pay.

In our Church all the elders have a day job. Still they do a good job taking care of Church and their family. This model works even for a bigger Church. One of our Churches that I was part of in India has close to 500 people attending. It is do able if we look on to God for provision rather than people!


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Sreeram

 2017/4/19 15:50Profile
twayneb
Member



Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 1760
Joplin, Missouri

 Re:

I think you are right Sree. So often we look at the church as a corporate structure and we see men who attempt to climb the corporate ladder so to speak. It is not God's plan or God's way.

We have a fellowship of about 120 people that is growing fairly rapidly. We have three elders including the pastor. All three of us have full time jobs and families. We have a large percentage of new converts who are in need of teaching and training and are doing our best to see that this discipleship happens. But we are finding that we do not have the time to properly minister to the people, our own families, and work full time as well. At some point in the future we see the need to oversee the church on a full time basis. We would love to appoint another elder now and more in the future, but we have no one in the fellowship who God has called out and who meets the qualifications of an elder.

I guess I say this to say that a salary is not necessarily a bad thing. It is the heart of men that leads to the problems in the church, not the fact that we might look to a salary structure to allow us to minister to the body full time. I think if we would allow God to call out and appoint elders Biblically, then we won't have to worry about the salary issue.

I might also add that I think the church in which a person could seek to be "hired" into a position of higher pay is a church that does not understand Biblical leadership. No man applies for and is hired for the position of apostle, pastor, evangelist, prophet, or teacher, and not man can apply for and be hired for the position of an elder. God calls. God chooses. God anoints. God ordains. We simply hear from Him and lay hands on the man to set him in the place that God has called him to.


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Travis

 2017/4/20 8:07Profile
rbanks
Member



Joined: 2008/6/19
Posts: 1190


 Re:

There is not a position in Christ that God cannot call a man and equip him for after he has been saved and forgiven to the point that one is now walking in the light of Christ in fellowship with God.

We must never place any mans sins that have been forgiven above the blood of Jesus in where he has made atonement for them on the Cross.

We must not hold people in bondage for their past sins. We must take the position of Christ by not remembering them anymore. Jesus can use anyone who has truly repented of their sins and forsaken them.

A person cannot undo his/her past and we do a great disservice to God and his people when we use a persons past against them when God has forgiven them.

Blessings,
rbanks

 2017/4/20 20:54Profile





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